Published: 15:09, 01 March 2021
| Updated: 16:51, 01 March 2021
Plans to build homes in a rural beauty spot have been refused.
Esquire Developments had applied to Medway Council to build 72 houses off Upnor Road, Upnor.
The plans, which were submitted in June last year, included 18 affordable homes, a children's nursery, and a new bus stop.
Kelly Tolhurst, the MP for the area, was among those who raised objections about the effect the development would have on air quality and infrastructure.
The land is in an area known as the Hogmarsh Valley Area of Local Landscape Importance, meaning it is not a designated site within the current Medway Local Plan which manages future development by allocating land for certain uses.
A report into the plans concluded: "It is considered that the impact of this proposal is an intrusion into the countryside which results in harm to the character, appearance and function of this important landscape area that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the 72 dwellings and the provision of a children’s nursery."
When the plan was first announced, many local residents strongly campaigned to oppose it.
They argued the placement of the build's entrance would make Upnor Road less safe to drive on and endangered wildlife.
More than 1,270 people signed a petition, which was set up by campaigning group Keep Upnor Green, opposing the idea.
Lesley Wright and Jenni Davis, Castle Street residents and Keep Upnor Green campaigners, said in a joint statement: "We are all happy the application has been refused which is good news for the whole area, for preserving farming and the environment, as well as local heritage and our village.
"We would like to think our campaigning was useful - 192 objections from a village the size of Upnor was some achievement and helped to bring people together despite the pandemic.
"Who knows what we might have achieved had we been able to get together. Some of the councillors, both parish and Medway, together with Kelly Tolhurst, have also been supportive.
"We see this as the start of our campaign rather than the end, as there may be an appeal. We are also concerned about what may be planned for the vacant children's home at the Old Vicarage and the Arethusa Venture Centre site. We await to hear the future of Patman's Wharf.
"We will also be looking closely at the proposals for Manor Farm and, of course, the Future Hoo infrastructure plans relating to the HIF funding.
"We believe a neighbourhood plan would be a useful tool for Upnor."
The planning department returned its refusal on Friday.